IVCC Art Instructor Retiring

Justice Petersen, IV Leader Editor

After a teaching career of 32 years, IVCC Art instructor Karen Zeilman is retiring after this year. 

Karen Zeilman has taught at IVCC for 17 years, as well as having taught high school art classes at St. Joseph-Ogden and in Streator.  

During her time at IVCC, Zeilman has taught Art Survey I and II, Design I and II, Drawing I and II, Painting I and Independent Painting II, and Ceramics I and II. Among her accomplishments, she has been nominated for IVCC’s Steven Charry Memorial Award.  

In addition to teaching art courses at IVCC, Zeilman has been involved in several art groups over the years, including one in which she, along with other art teachers, exhibit their own art pieces 

She attended University of Illinois – Urbana for her undergraduate degree and received her master’s degree at Illinois State University.  

Zeilman grew up in Monticello, IL, and has always been interested in the arts from an early age. 

“I always read and drew,” says Zeilman. “Wanting to know about artists and writers was a natural step.” 

Zeilman says that it was her elementary school and junior high school fine arts and humanities teachers who inspired her to become a teacher herself. She says, “I thought that they expanded the world for their students. They gave me an appreciation of the fine arts.” 

Zeilman says her favorite part about teaching art courses is seeing the end result of her students’ projects. 

“I enjoy the end of a project when a student puts their work on the critique wall. I love seeing what they have created. I also enjoy studio time when we can all draw or work with clay,” says Zeilman.  

When asked what she will miss most about teaching, Zeilman says, “I will miss helping students to understand how visual language works. It was fun helping students decode visual images from the past and present.” 

Zeilman says that the hardest part about teaching art courses is the lack of support that students may receive.  

“Art students work hard and have so much to offer the world. I would love for them to feel the same appreciation that others may receive,” says Zeilman. “We live in a very visual society. It is easy to take for granted the contributions that artists make. The truth is that everything man made was designed by someone.” 

When asked about her favorite memory from teaching, Zeilman recalls a past student of hers from Nigeria. 

He wanted to take art classes, but his family was not supportive,” says Zeilman. He would bring me his work or send it to me online to get feedback. Finally, he took Drawing I and was fantastic. He went on to study medicine at a prestigious university. He still creates wonderful work and sends it to me for feedback. Just recently, he began taking art classes along with his Med school course load. I love that I had the smallest part in his continued success. He will be an amazing neuro- surgeon one day and an amazing artist.” 

Once she retires, Zeilman plans to take the time to travel as well as work in her art studio working on projects. Besides art and teaching, Zeilman’s interests include gardening, landscaping, and birds.  

It is instructors like Karen Zeilman who resemble what is so wonderful about teaching. Teaching is not only about creating lesson plans and lecturing on the given material; being a teacher involves having a profound impact on the lives of students each and every day.  

Just like her own mentors, Karen Zeilman has inspired her own students to adopt an artistic mind. Zeilman has taught her students the importance and beauty of creating art. Additionally, she has not only given the students of IVCC a passion for art, but an appreciation for the work of other artists as well.